Wednesday, January 25, 2017

IBJJF Europeans: Live From Lisbon

2017 Europeans in Lisbon, Portugal
Working with Flograppling

“The effortless, lazy, and safe has nothing to do with heroism. The hero is one who beats the odds, who chooses to not take the conventional road just because that’s where he’s expected to be”

At 10 A.M. on Monday morning, I was outside of a Bengali guest house frantically pushing buttons, kicking the door, and trying to peer through the cracks. Europeans had finally ended and I had reserved my last day to try to explore some of Lisbon, but in actuality, all I wanted to do was find a warm place to sleep. 

The Bengali guest house was definitely not that, but my suitcase which I had left with Thomas and Moicano was locked inside. So there I was, at 10 A.M. with two bags and a bad attitude trying to reunite with my belongings. Three years ago I probably would have been a little more concerned about my own welfare or that of my belongings, but considering that I have my life spread out between Virginia, D.C., Philly, and Rio and always have a bag or two stashed at Terere’s, in Curitiba, or with a friend in New York, the fact that the majority of my possessions were currently unobtainable and the owner of the house unreachable was nothing out of the ordinary.

3 years ago I probably would have accepted defeat, maybe cried a little out of frustration, and then sat around waiting for the guy to open the door. That was before I started working with kid’s in D.C. though. One time after almost peeing myself trying to find a bathroom driving around with one of my students, he made a comment that changed my perspective on handling problems. He asked me why I didn’t just ask to go to the bathroom before we left his house. I did I told him, but he didn’t hear me.

“You should have made me hear you,” he said.

So that’s what I did, I turned around and I made the first person I saw get me inside of the guesthouse. It took about 5 more minutes of button pushing and several phone calls but then a freshly dressed Bengali man came strolling down the street and let me in. 

The guest house cost 12 Euros a night and was a veritable piece of shit that retained no heat what so ever, but I was only staying there until I left for my flight at 4:30 in the morning and after a short nap I knew I would be out wandering the streets until late that night.

Had everything gone according to plan I would have spent 5 nights bundled in blankets trying to deal with the unbearable draft (for some reason people always leave doors and windows open to air things out and maybe try to catch pneumonia.

But things didn’t go as planned, they never do. Instead of spending the week with Moicano, who I had spent month raising money to get him to Portugal in the first place, I ended up in taking care of an unexpected addition to my crew: a kid from the first social project that I was involved in when I lived in Barra da Tijuca.

Roque (Pronounced Rocky)
Brotherly love just without the city
Somewhere between London and Lisbon, I started getting text messages from Roque, a 17year old blue belt that I know from Rio. He wanted to know where I was staying.

I met Roque 3 years ago at a Kyra Gracie seminar when I first moved to Brazil. For my first 3 months, we trained together at Gordo Jiu-Jitsu in Barra da Tijuca and two days a week I would go over to the Gigoia Island where he lives to train at a social project with Perninha, a black belt. Because of his long blonde hair, it took me about 30 minutes to determine his sex and about 3 minutes to pass his guard. Now I’m 100% sure that he is a guy and about 25% sure that I can still pass his guard. Puberty is a son of a bitch.

Frankly, I wasn’t too sure where I was going, so I took my time in responding. I had an address with no house number, a Whats App number for a guy named Kidd (that’s for texting), and a lot of faith in Terere (who had arranged our accommodations with a friend). I got picked up by one of Kidd’s students at 7 P.M. after almost 24 hours of traveling. We hopped on the metro and headed back to Kidd’s house… Or at least that’s what we thought. In actuality, we ended up at the kid’s house waiting for Kidd to get home from training (and seeing his girlfriend). In the morning, Kidd went off to train and left me at home with Playboy who gave me a quick rundown of how to get around in Portugal. Sound confusing... it definitely was, especially considering the differences in the Brazilian and Portuguese pronunciation. After about twenty minutes of trying to decipher Playboy's Portuguese I finally found the best way to meet up with Roque. 

It turned out that 17-year-old Roque had managed to acquire the sponsorship necessary to travel to Portugal, but he failed to acquire a chaperone or to tell his parents about said detail. His mom took him to the airport only to find out that his sponsor and supposed travel buddy was nowhere in sight. He wanted to know where I was staying because he didn’t actually book a room to stay in until he arrived in Lisbon. I found this all out the next day when we met up with each other. I would have caught a proper ass whooping from my dad had I tried to pull something like that.

I met Roque when he was 14 years old at a Krya Graice seminar when I first moved 
to Rio. It took me about 30 minutes to determine his sex because of his long blond hair. 
A black belt from Gordo BJJ used to take me over to Gigoia island to train with people my size.
Now I'm 100% sure of his sex and about 25% confident in my ability to pass his guard. 
Moral of the story: Puberty's a bitch. 

If it wasn’t for Roque I would have spent Monday, and one of my only days off of work sleeping, playing GTA and moping because my suitcase was lost in transition somewhere on my way to Portugal.

 To be continued....

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